A dialogue between fact and delusion
I love having conversations with conspiracy theorists. I’m serious. I don’t talk to them to ridicule them or to argue with them. I actually want to hear what they have to say. I want to hear about how the world is flat, about how Qanon actually exists, how there’s an influence swamp in Washington DC, a Deep State, or that 60 families run the whole world. I want to hear it all.
You might ask me why I want to listen to this silliness, and this is what I will tell you;
I have a passion for critical thinking, deductive reasoning, evidence-based facts, Bay’s predictability analysis, and even inductive reasoning when facts are less clear than I would like them to be.
So what I do is listen carefully while the conspiracy theorist tells me what they believe and why. Then I ask them questions that I know they can’t answer. Simple questions such as “where is the evidence for what you are claiming?” They can seldom offer me anything in response other than to direct me to some slick Youtube video. After watching ten minutes of rumor, gossip, ‘allegedly’ this or that, or some nonsense about secret information they have that was shared with them by some former employee of NASA, the CIA, etc. I am usually left with the same thing — they clearly have a misunderstanding of statistics, and cherry-pick low hanging fruit (weak facts), or have latched on to general claims that sound rational on the surface (like the idea that a few families run the world), but actually are irrational.
Life is not simple but conspiracy theorists want it to be. Why are they so embedded psychologically in a world where facts just don’t seem to matter? Because they haven’t done their homework. They don’t, won’t, and haven’t done the research, and worst of all they don’t actually see the value of facts. For the few that actually, have gathered evidence-based facts they have weaved these facts into a web of conclusions that are highly improbable though remotely possible.
Thus, you will be surprised as I was, as I share with you the e-mail I received this morning from one of my conspiracy theorist friends.
We hadn’t talked for months. I would ask him questions concerning his conspiracy belief that he could not answer. He would yell at me tell me to ‘shut up’ or call me a moron who was brainwashed by big pharma. But after about six months he did call and we spoke at length. He was sensible and lucid as I explained to him the flaws in most conspiracy thinking. I particularly enjoyed explaining that “any secret conspiracy you know about can’t be a very good one and is certainly not a secret if you know about it”.
Surprisingly, what I said in that conversation actually made sense to him. I was amazed and a bit skeptical.
To push the point further, I added that if he actually knew about a real secret conspiracy, those who had hatched it would probably drive his car off a cliff, or poison him, or kill him in some other way. Apparently, that made sense to him as well.
I wasn’t saying there were no conspiracies in the world, it was that he didn’t know them, and neither did I.
The next day he sent me a wonderful letter which I will share with you. This letter made all the hours I have put in listening to conspiracy theorists and their endless convoluted narratives all the more worthwhile.
Let me add that I did not edit his e-mail for grammar, though I did edit out the names of some conspiracies he had promoted. I did not want to give them any attention at all. Clearly, a light bulb of clarity had opened in his head and he was writing as fast as he could.
So glad that we have resumed our conversations, as not only do I value you as a very good friend, as well as a highly gifted intellectual who has developed an extraordinary system to ascertain what is most likely false and therefore arrive at a strong semblance of truth.
As a result of our conversations, I’m on the same path and it’s refreshing to give up my prejudices which I formerly used to make sense of the crazy, chaotic events taking place in the world.
One of the ways of dealing with large scale moral dilemmas is to weave conspiracy theories. How does the global economy and world function and is it functional. It’s a very difficult concept for most folks to grasp. It’s much easier to spin conspiracy theories that it’s ……., and or a group of multi-billionaires controlling the world economy, the media, and starting wars to enrich themselves. As we spoke about this, I realized these ideas are rarely true. We accept it because we want easy answers and it is all far too difficult to understand what is really happening. As you stated, ‘if it was true we would not know about it’.
Another way is to worship someone who we feel has the answers and is brave enough to fight the “evil” that’s exists and clean up the swamp, and make America great again. Trump convinced enough people that he fit the bill as they didn’t think they had any alternative and no matter what occurs it’s too scary for them to give up their beliefs, as they feel they have no other alternative.
So we are at a place where folks don’t do their homework, either because their lazy, or they are not in the habit of verifying their beliefs and don’t necessarily know how to do research and it’s much easier to believe some simple concept that it’s a bunch of bad rich guys behind most everything that goes wrong.
If I wasn’t in conversation with you and didn’t do all the reading and investigations that I now do, I would be in the same boat. I don’t have the answer to transform folk's belief systems, especially when they are so fearful and so dogmatic, that they go bananas what one disagrees with them, or asks them questions as they see that as challenging their beliefs. Beliefs that are based on false assumptions or connecting the dots incorrectly to verify their point of view.
The above is just a bunch of thoughts with no conclusions. We will continue our discussions.
I wrote him back
Thanks for your wise thoughts. The best thing is for us is never to come to conclusions unless we must. Even when we are correct on our assumptions, there is always new data arriving that changes everything. That is good science and wise thinking. I look forward to our continued conversations.
Have respect or facts, and do research when someone claims that something is so.
Here is a news story of a truly absurd and dangerous conspiracy theorist attorney who insists that Donald Trump won the 2020 election despite all the evidence indicating otherwise
This story was created from my seminar notes for Harrison’s Applied Game Theory. To follow my introductory and extended Great Game Theory Guide postings and stories, check out the full Table of Contents at:
Game theory has won numerous Nobel Prizes including the 2020 prize in Economics.
If you have an interest in learning more about applied game theory, game-thinking, and gamer psychology you can begin with this short introduction to the basics of game theory. Below is an article (a 6-minute read) as well as a more in-depth video embedded in the article. Both were created so they would be understood by 12-year-old.
Using all of the gaming skills you have learned from the sandbox, through Rubick’s Cube, and now into video games and sports will change your life in every way, for the better.
The Article: Click on the title ‘the Best Introduction…’ just below.
If you are still a bit confused about how to apply game theory in your daily life watch the 15-minute video interview with me below, Just click on the URL.
We also offer a course in Applied Game Theory.
Click on this URL link below and explore the course.
About the Author: Lewis Harrison, is a speaker a strategist specializing in applied game theory, strategies, decision science, and personal improvement.
I am always exploring trends, innovations, areas of interest, and solutions to build new stories upon. If you have any ideas you would like me to write about just email me at LewisCoaches@gmail.com
Join my mailing list here at Asklewis.com